Top Ten Most-Endangered Public Lands

South Florida Parks
By Andrea Keller

Surrounded by water, it's almost ironic that water levels, as well as pollution, remain significant concerns for three South Florida parks—Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Biscayne National Park. Although Congress last year passed a bill authorizing billions of dollars to help return the Everglades to a more natural state, the projects face almost insurmountable challenges. The parks are also threatened by farmers and local municipalities that want to divert water from the Everglades to irrigate farms and water lawns. They also want to use the Everglades as a water "dump" to help control floods during wet seasons—a practice that's potentially damaging to the delicate ecosystem. In addition, Big Cypress faces degradation by continued off-road vehicle damage, as swamp buggies continue to tear up fragile wetlands already scarred by 22,000 miles of rutted trails.

Recommended solution: The Park Service must vigorously pursue performance standards, begin construction, and develop scientific solutions that benefit the ecosystem. In addition, Congress and the Florida legislature must appropriate adequate funds for the project and refrain from passing laws that transform the restoration plan into a flood-control/water-supply plan. And in Big Cypress, the Park Service must enforce its restrictions on ecologically destructive swamp buggies.


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